Iran Government Criticized For Earthquake Response
Locals voiced complaints over the lack of tents for victims and questioned President Mahmoud Ahmandinejad’s decision to leave the country for an official visit to Saudi Arabia. Authorities announced Sunday, less than 24 hours after the quake, that all survivors have been freed from the rubble, but some expressed doubt that rescuers could reach the remote villages so soon.
"In every other part of the world, the tradition is that when natural disasters happen, leaders will change their plans and visit the affected areas in order to show their compassion ... and observe rescue efforts," said an editorial in the moderate conservative paper, Asr-e Iran.
The quakes, with magnitudes of 6.4 and 6.3, rocked East Azerbaijan province Saturday afternoon and left thousands of people injured. Iranian officials have been quoted as saying that up to 17,000 people have been displaced and are in need of shelter, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.